Obama’s ‘signing bonus’ to Iran hits legal snag

By Paul Miller, Continue reading in JNS…

Iran may need to wait a while to collect its $150 billion “signing bonus” in this year’s nuclear deal with the P5+1 nations.

As part of July’s nuclear deal, President Barack Obama agreed to release Iranian assets that have been frozen in U.S. banks since the takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979. But Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center, a non-profit legal assistance group based in Tel Aviv, has sent a letter to 11 American banks warning them that releasing the money now would be a violation of a current U.S. court order intended to compensate victims of Iran-sponsored terrorism.

The banks addressed in the letter are believed to be holding frozen Iranian assets, and awaiting certification by the administration than Iran has met certain preliminary benchmarks for the release of that money.

U.S. courts, however, have awarded judgments to a number of American families against the Iranian government as victims of terrorism perpetrated by Iran-sponsored terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

One such case dates back to Sept. 4, 1997, when Hamas executed triple suicide bombings on the Ben Yehuda Street pedestrian mall in Jerusalem. The attack killed five Israelis and severely injured a number of Americans.

Families of those Americans injured in the bombing filed suit against the Iranian regime for damages. Iran is a financial and military patron of Hamas. The case, Rubin v. The Islamic Republic of Iran, was decided in favor of the plaintiffs. Yet previous efforts to attach certain Iranian assets, notably museum artifacts being repatriated to Iran, have failed. A number of courts have ruled that historical artifacts are not exempt from sovereign immunity, and thus cannot be seized to make payment.

Cash, however, appears to be another matter.

Continue reading in JNS.org

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